Kees Van Dongen
full CORNELIS THEODORUS MARIE VAN DONGEN, Dutch-born French painter, one of
the leading Fauvists
after Henri Matisse, particularly renowned for his sensuously rendered portraits of women.
Van Dongen exhibited
artistic leanings early in his youth. He attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of
Rotterdam and moved to Paris at the age of 20. In the bohemian atmosphere of the
Montmartre district, he worked as a house painter, an illustrator for satirical papers,
and a café artist.
Having made the
acquaintance of Matisse, he participated in 1905 in the famous Salon d'Automne, at which
the Fauve (Wild Beast) group was given its epithet. In 1907 he was contracted by Daniel
Henry Kahnweiler, the dealer of Picasso, and his reputation grew.
In 1908 he was invited to
join the German Expressionist group Die Brücke (The Bridge), centred at the time in
Dresden. Van Dongen's candid, colouristic portrait style was immensely fashionable by the
end of World War I. The figure of the thin, red-lipped, unmistakably aristocratic woman
(as in "Woman with Jewels," 1905) became his rather chilling archetype. His
portrait of Anatole France (1917) is particularly notable. He also painted numerous richly
coloured seascapes and scenes of Paris in an assured, economical style.